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Strengthening and Rebuilding Tribal Justice Systems: Learning From History and Looking Towards the Future, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2005
170 pages
This is the final report of a process evaluation of the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement (CIRCLE) Project, which provided incentives and opportunities for Indian tribes to improve their justice system components.
CIRCLE, which began in 1998, involves a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni for the purpose of strengthening those tribes' justice systems. USDOJ is to provide streamlined and coordinated Federal funding for tribal justice functions. Evaluation of the CIRCLE Project was conducted in two phases. The first phase was an 18-month "process" phase, which is the subject of this report. The second phase will be the "outcomes" phase, which will be the subject of a separate report. An important goal of the process evaluation was to determine whether CIRCLE's design was useful to tribes in their efforts to strengthen their justice systems. Site-based interviews and observations focused on two working-group products that provided support for the efforts of tribal partners: the Federal partners' work in streamlining and coordinating funding, as well as improved communication and cooperation among the Federal partners and between the Federal partners and the tribes. The process focused on tailoring tribal strategies to tribal cultural values. Another focus of the process evaluation was the sustainability of improvements in the face of fiscal, political, and other challenges over an extended period of time. The process evaluation determined that streamlined USDOJ funding was used by the tribes to assess current conditions and begin designing improvements for their justice systems. The improvements begun include the strengthening of agency performance, the creation and expansion of support programs for tribal courts, and the development of culturally based framework for rethinking the design of criminal justice institutions and agencies. 1 table, 1 figure, and 62 references

Date Published: March 1, 2005